Once school started again in October 1934, Jane Hall’s Upper East Side and Lower East Side worlds competed for her attention. Now in her third-year at Cooper Union, she focused on two advanced courses. Pictorial Design with Austin Purves, Jr., still proved difficult, but Life Drawing and Painting with John Steuart Curry was much more promising. Besides, Thomas Craven, an “unsurpassed modern critic,” whose work Jane admired, held John Steuart Curry’s work in high regard. She knew she should not waste this “golden opportunity” to study with a master. By the beginning of November, despite encouragement from Mr. Curry, Jane recognized she was “not making the proper progress” in art school. How different her experience could have been if she’d had the funds to go away to college and immerse in the arts and humanities without the distractions of a hectic Manhattan social life. U.C.L.A. had been Jane’s dream when she’d been a high school sophomore in Manhattan Beach.
That fall and winter, Jane saw several of her old friends and met new ones. She told her diary how guilty she felt for staying out too late too often. She was “not producing anything worth a loud damn in the art line! Where is this fun going to get you? And when?” Jane asked herself. “Dear God, give me a sense of values before it is too late.” Finances were tight; Jane knew her aunt and uncle hoped she would marry well and soon. On December 14, when she stayed out until 1:30 a.m. with her favorite admirer, Dick Clarke, after seeing “Anything Goes,” Rose Hicks was furious. Had Jane fallen for a man who was not well-established enough? Another older suitor, Paul Emiliano, seemed promising as a possible prospect for her niece until Rose learned that he was the divorced father of two young children. But Paul would remain a good friend of the family for several years.
Jane had told her high school pal and fellow debutante, Muggy Gregory, that she would never fall in love – losing anyone else after the death of both her parents would be too painful. So she kept her beaux as pals while they all had a lot of “mad fun” as participants in Manhattan’s café society. Her art school director, Austin Purves, accused Jane of choosing “the course of least resistance?” Early in 1935, Jane would make one more push to succeed at Cooper Union. Should she be a writer or an artist? And how would she find a job?
Jane’s literary agent, Elsie McKeogh, recognized that her new client’s experiences as a “party girl” and her disdain for the shallow behavior of some of her contemporaries – even as she joined them out on the town – would shape the stories and the screenplays that would one day bring her success.